This week Leon's friend Craig is visiting from New Zealand. Or stopping by that is. He's doing the "big move" we all dream about: Quit his job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe and heading there for traveling and work. Not too much planned, only a stop over in dear Shanghai and Milan as the first Euro destination. Super exciting!
This week he's been out & about exploring all of Shanghai's famous pearls and hidden gems and Friday me & him planned a little get-away to see something out of the city. Water-towns are almost a must-see when you visit China and Shanghai is surrounded by a number of these cute ancient canal towns. I've previous visited Suzhou (read more here) and the tiny Qibao which is actually a part of Shanghai and can be reached by metro (read more here).
Friday morning we decided Zhujiajiao Water Town as our destination - the over 1,700 years old water town on the outskirts of Shanghai. According to China Travel Guide Zhujiajiao is the best preserved water town so close to Shanghai and is often referred to as 'Pearl Stream'.
Getting from Shanghai to Zhujiajiao
It supposedly takes approximately 1.5 hours to reach Zhujiajiao with bus from Shanghai and you can find a list of buses and bus-stops directions here. Remember you always have to add the time it takes to get to the station or bus-stop, buy tickets and wait for the next available bus. Often I find that traveling out of Shanghai always takes much more time than calculated. So because Zhujiajiao is only about 50km away we decided to jump in a taxi and in this way we reached Zhujiajiao Ancient Town in just 50 minutes. We paid 190 RMB where the bus is under 10RMB/ticket.
As all roads seem to lead to Shanghai we decided to find Zhujiajiao Bus Station going back and we got on a bus within 2 minutes and pain on board. Too Easy. But the trip back took approximately 2.5 hours and we still had to get back home from the station so I really feel the money on a taxi is worth it at least one of the ways - the local bus can be an experience you don't want to totally miss out on as well =)
Zhujiajiao ancient town is a super cute place with several unique bridges allowing you to cross the canal and explore the different parts. The endless rows of willow trees makes the village super lush and fresh!
The village is known for once being a vibrant and prosperous little trading town but today it's super tranquil and life almost seems to stand still. You will find lots of the typical small shops where you can buy souvenirs, local food specialties and: lots of cra* (excuse my language). You also find several spots along the canals where you can eat lunch - take your time to find a good outside spot if the weather is nice and I recommend a late lunch (after 1.30pm) to avoid the big lunch crowds.
Oh Zhujiajiao also has a big Starbucks. Yes, this a good sign that this water town is not a hidden wonder waiting to be found by you. It's super super popular and I've heard you should avoid weekends or just be very very patient. As with all popular spots in China, the crowds of (Chinese) tourists can make especially nature experience super unpleasant.
Apart from the cute bridges of different styles Zhujiajiao has the cute Kezhi garden, the old post office and don't forget to visit Yuanjin Buddhist Temple and have your fortune told. Both me and Craig will be blessed with "family up" and "life happy" so we left Zhujiajiao very reassured!